Bad Moms

I come from a long line of pretty bad moms. It was never our intent, we just ended up that way. My Great-Grandmother, Nanny as we all called her, was actually a very GOOD mom. Though crippled from an upbringing of poverty and strange Irish standards for women, she made a life of love and tried … Read More

Paint Chip Poetry

This is a great exercise for any writing class. Collect paint color cards from the hardware store. Put a large pile in the center of each workstation. Have students grab, at random or with intention, several cards. Each student should read, reflect, and write a poem using the paint colors. Here’s mine: over a restless … Read More

Afternoon tee

It was 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, late in July, when she learned she was going to die. In the doctor’s office, bright and sterile, like the doctor himself, she felt the weight of her mortality. She thought, “Well, it seemed I was done with life anyway…”, which had been true for a few years. Each … Read More

Summer fun

My Uncle was born somewhere near a railroad in Michigan. Railroads factor greatly in our family. He’s my “uncle-by-marriage” but still… At some point during his youth, he got up close and REALLY personal with a train. He and his friends were playing, as dumb kids sometimes do, and his foot was jammed somehow. He couldn’t … Read More

Dads’ Day

It’s possible I should choose to “say nothing at all”, but… Fathers’ Day escaped me when I was young and so did my father. The story goes like this: my mother was a hippy and happened into a coffee shop on Congress Street in the late 60s. There was a man with strawberry blond hair … Read More

Lessons My Mother Taught Me, Part 1: Fight

Some Moms teach their kids to bake – cookies, pies, cakes in the kitchen – sweet and loving moms. Other Moms take their daughters to work and show them how to earn a buck or two. I’ve even known Moms who are the BEST at teaching kids how to drive – calm, cool, and collected … Read More

Hairy Mary

When I was little Nanny would braid my hair. I’d sit between her legs and she’d work long plaits down my back. It was the same braid she’d made for her own girls when they were young. The same braid she made for the other Indian girls on the reservation. She worked those braids with … Read More

Broken Crayons

A student and I were drawing flowers recently. We started, as you normally do, outlining our designs, gently, hesitantly, hoping to see the shape transform from our minds to the paper. She kept coloring delicately and wondered, aloud, why I was going darker. Then, I remembered… I’ve always broken crayons in the pursuit of boldness. … Read More